A patient's dentist may recommend custom mouth guards to reduce the effects of bruxism and help prevent long-term tooth damage. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common cause of headaches, jaw pain and similar symptoms. It also can increase a patient's risk for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, a condition that may cause jaw joint pain, trouble opening or closing the mouth and difficulty chewing food.
How can patients tell if they need a mouth guard?
While there are conscious steps to take for patients who clench or grind their teeth while awake, those who grind their teeth while asleep may not even be aware that they are doing it. There are several things that can let patients or their dentist know that bruxism is a problem.
Excessive tooth wear
In many cases, a patient's dentist will notice extreme wear on the teeth in a case of bruxism. To prevent further damage and preserve the teeth, the dentist may recommend a custom mouth guard.
Headaches upon waking
Having a headache when waking up is a common sign of bruxism. The prolonged tension resulting from grinding the teeth at night often result in painful headaches.
Pain in the TMJ
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) often becomes tender to the touch in patients who grind their teeth at night. In some cases, joint pain will be so severe that the patient has trouble open and closing the mouth normally. Bruxism is not the only cause of TMJ pain, but it is a common one.
How does a mouth guard protect the teeth?
Many patients may not think that bruxism is particularly dangerous. However, according to Dentistry Today, bruxism often reaches a force of up to 500 pounds per square inch (psi). This force is many times the force of normal chewing — even biting down on dense, crunchy foods like carrots exerts a force less than 30 psi.
This repeated force can cause damage to the teeth. In some cases, patients with bruxism end up causing severe damage to tooth enamel. Since enamel is the protective layer, patients with bruxism may eventually experience increased sensitivity and even cavities.
Mouth guards provide a layer between the jaws that protects the surfaces of the teeth from further damage. They may not completely stop bruxism, but they do protect the patient's teeth from continually being worn down. Guards designed for night use are custom-fitted by a dentist based on an impression of the patient's teeth. They are usually comfortable and low-profile, and they do not interfere with breathing. Most patients become accustomed to sleeping in mouth guards fairly quickly.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Mouth Guards in Carlsbad, CA.
For patients who grind their teeth at night or suspect they do, a good first step to dealing with the problem is simply talking to a dentist. The dentist can examine teeth for signs of bruxism. If mouth guards are needed, a custom-fitted option keeps the patient comfortable and reduces the often-painful side effects of teeth grinding.
Request an appointment or call Ida Alfonso, DMD at 760-931-0144 for an appointment in our Carlsbad office.
For many professional and amateur athletes, mouth guards are essential for protection and safety. Even children and teenagers may require this type of protective equipment in a variety of sports settings. While many universal-fit options are available and easy to access, most dental professionals recommend ordering a custom-fit model from the patient's dental care office.…
For some people, the idea of getting dentures can be a scary prospect. If you are in this situation, it may mean that you have lost most or all of your teeth. This could have happened because they were severely decayed or many of them were damaged in a serious accident. Regardless of why you…
The local dental center might not be a favorite place to visit, but it is vital for maintaining oral health. If you have not had an appointment with a dentist for a while, you may have forgotten what takes place during a dental checkup. This can be especially helpful if you have any anxiety about…